I missed being here, you might even say I needed to be in the garden. It grounds me, nourishes me, relaxes me. It is part of the rhythm of my life. In the winter I read about gardening, not just the garden catalogs, but books about wildflowers and perennials. Gardening is a passion....right there at the top of the list of musts ...I must have time with my husband, I must talk with my son each week, I must have time in the garden, I must have a walk every day...
I do work, but my office is in my home. So, I can visit the garden any time. Out the door, down the steps and walk about, weeding here and there.... looking for what has newly bloomed. Back inside, put the kettle on for tea and get ready for the next client.
My therapy clients pass through the front garden to get to my office. Sometimes we have a session on the screened porch. They tell me that they love the garden. They say it's a peaceful place, a safe place. I hope it is, it's important to me that they feel safe, that they find peace and a place to begin their healing process.
Gardens heal...and for people in pain, stopping to look at a daffodil in bloom
or a vignette of colorful flowers can be soothing. There are clients who just march in and don't stop to look. There are a few who arrive early and spend time looking around. Then there are the folks who stop and look around as they are leaving, asking me about the plants. Some of my clients have plants from the garden, I always share...everyone needs a garden.
I didn't plan this to be a healing garden or even a therapy garden; it's just my garden. The garden that provides joy for me, that is a part of the rhythm of my life. I'd like to believe that the garden helps my clients. There is research that suggests that even a short period of time sitting in nature or looking at photos of nature relieves stress.
Gardeners know this is true...we experience it every day...even when we are so frustrated we could scream; our bodies and minds quiet in the garden. Our breathing slows down, our muscles relax and we can breath deeper.
But scientists and researches won't take our word for it! They want to know how this is possible! "One theory, the biophilia hypothesis, suggests that physiological responses to certain natural environments are the result of evolutionary encoding in our genes. According to this hypothesis, environments that supported survival of our ancestors (such as those with lush vegetation and water) were encoded as visually attractive and produced a relaxation response." (Minnesota Medicine)
In other words, at the core of our being we a have a deeply rooted link to nature, a spiritual connection to wellness and wholeness.
To test their hypothesis, scientists set up studies that deliberately stressed participants. They discovered that measures of stress levels (heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension) all return to normal within minutes of being in a natural setting or looking at a photo of a natural setting. The same individuals experienced positive feelings, less fear and aggression.
No wonder gardens are being developed at hospitals, rehab centers and nursing homes. People get better...this is wonderful news in cases were over active stress responses make their conditions worse. Sitting in the garden can lift their spirits, aid their healing...
We know this, we didn't need a researcher to tell us that our gardens ground and nourish. We feel safe, relaxed, joyful and playful. Our gardens are places where we can let go of dis-ease.
I do not understand how anyone can live
without one small place of enchantment to turn to.
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings